This autonomous EV charging robot roams car parks in search of flat batteries

Nyobolt Bolt-ee
(Image credit: Nyobolt)

More electric cars were registered in Europe between January and October of this year than their diesel counterparts. It’s a milestone figure for the reduction of tailpipe CO2 emissions, but it’s also a stark reminder of the speed of EV uptake.

In North America, the Biden administration wants a network of 500,000 public EV chargers to deal with demand, while the UK Government, despite the nation’s relatively small landmass, wants that figure pegged at 300,000 by 2030. Suffice to say, both administrations are a little way off (51,000 was the last count in the UK, 160,000 in the US).

So what’s the solution? UK-based fast-charging specialist Nyobolt offers an option in its latest Bolt-ee concept: a roving charging point that can deliver fast and reliable speeds in a convenient and, in some cases, highly automated package.

Bolt-ee does away with the need for planning permission, the requirement to connect to the grid and the "vast amount of trenching of public land" required to install static charging outlets.

The concept unit comprises the company's high-efficiency 30kW DC-DC power modules and high-performance 30kWh battery modules. Nyobolt already produced a Lotus Elise-based concept car that could charge in just six minutes, cementing its reputation within the industry as a fast-charging specialist.

According to Martin Borcin, product director at Nyobolt, the battery module uses "Nyobolt’s proprietary li-ion chemistry and deliver extreme long battery life of 10,000 fast-recharge (6-minute) cycles."

To put that into perspective, Bolt-ee can deliver around 100 miles of range in under 10 minutes, when plugged into a vehicle with the capacity to accept super fast charging speeds.

It also charges from a CCS charging connector, just like an EV, and can be charged from any CCS charging station. Although Nyobolt says it plans to build dedicated docking stations with dynamic charge distribution to multiple Bolt-ee’s being charged simultaneously - a solution that is less taxing on current infrastructure.

But more than this, Bolt-ee is completely mobile. Borcin says that pilot operations, which are due to commence next year, will be "via safety-augmented remote control", meaning someone will oversee the operation.

However, this charging station on wheels is set to do away with the shackles of a remote control and begin autonomous rounds within designated parking spaces in the near future.

A big hitter

Nyobolt Bolt-ee

(Image credit: Nyobolt)

The prototype unit Nyobolt is currently showing measures 72 x100cm and is 92cm tall, so this is no lithe robotic stick insect. What’s more, Bolt-ee with 120kW DC charging power and 30kWh energy capacity will be 130cm high and weigh close to 300kg, while a whopping 300kW power unit, which stacks a total of 10 power modules, is also planned and that's going to be huge.

It's difficult to imagine something of that size navigating the densely packed and often painfully undersized car parks found in Europe and further afield, without the need for reconfiguration or the introduction of new infrastructure to allow it to operate safely. 

That said, Bolt-ee’s basic technology will also underpin a much smaller unit that is planned to join roadside assistance crews tending to EVs that have run out of juice mid-journey - so it is already shrinking the package.

As battery technology advances and things become more compact, we might find Bolt-ee reduces to a more practical size, where it can freely roam car parks, shopping malls, workspaces and car rental locations, without getting in the way. 

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Leon Poultney

Leon has been navigating a world where automotive and tech collide for almost 20 years, reporting on everything from in-car entertainment to robotised manufacturing plants. Currently, EVs are the focus of his attentions, but give it a few years and it will be electric vertical take-off and landing craft. Outside of work hours, he can be found tinkering with distinctly analogue motorcycles, because electric motors are no replacement for an old Honda inline four.